ST. ALBANS CITY — St. Albans City is proposing a fiscal year 2019 budget with a 3.19-cent increase in the tax rate.
For a home valued at $200,000 that’s an increase of $63.76 on the annual tax bill.
There are two main drivers of the increase, according to city manager Dominic Cloud: the creation of a street crimes unit in the St. Albans Police Dept. (SAPD), which is adding $110,500 to the budget, and an increase in the amount of funds being raised to pay for the sidewalk replacement project.
The percent increase in property taxes is 3.6 percent. Cloud said 2.4 percent of that is the new police unit and 1.2 percent the increase in sidewalk funds.
In 2016, city voters approved a $4.9 million sidewalk project to replace aging sidewalks and curbs in the city’s neighborhoods. That work will be done over three to four years. As the work is done, the city is paying for it with funds on-hand or low interest short-term loans from Peoples Trust Co., explained Tom Leitz, the city’s director of administration.
“We borrow what we need to borrow,” said Leitz. “We’re trying to manage that pretty carefully to save interest on the way.” If bills for sidewalk work can be paid with cash on hand, he does so and doesn’t borrow the funds until absolutely necessary, Leitz explained.
The work so far has cost about $1.6 million, and Leitz said he will be converting $1 million of that into long-term debt this year.
At the same time, the city is raising the amount of money on the sidewalk line item each year until it has the $300,000 annually that will be needed to make the bond payments once the project is complete. To that end, the city is adding $55,000 to the sidewalk line item this year, raising it to $275,000.
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